26 October 2014

Savita investigator urged study of "liberal abortion laws"

14:38, Kieron Wood

The doctor leading the investigation into the death of Savita Halappanavar, Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, has called for countries with restrictive abortion laws “to look at the evidence available in favour of liberal abortions laws”.

Arulkumaran was asked by the Health Service Executive to head the inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar from septicaemia at Galway University Hospital on October 28. According to Savita’s husband, she was refused a termination of her 17-week pregnancy because there was still a foetal heartbeat.

As president of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), Arulkumaran co-authored an article in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics in 2009 on safer childbirth and “reproductive rights”. The journal is published by Elsevier Ireland, based in Shannon, Co Clare.

Arulkumaran said: “Termination of pregnancy is a sensitive issue in many parts of the world because of religious, cultural, social, and traditional beliefs.

“We would like to challenge and encourage societies and countries with restrictive abortion laws to look at the evidence available in favour of liberal abortions laws and debate the possibility of making the choice of termination of pregnancy a legal right for women.

“In the same breath, it is important to stress that wherever there is a liberal law on termination of pregnancy, the provision of safe and comprehensive abortion care is paramount to a successful reduction in maternal morbidity and mortality as a result of the complications of abortion.”

Arulkumaran added: “It is also critical that we continue to engage the governments and policy makers of all nations to ensure that reproductive rights remain a priority.”

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